The Fighter Within

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The Fighter Within

I walked to the hospital reception desk with blood dripping down my face. The deep gash over my eye was no accident.

The receptionist looked at me and asked me what happened. Calmly, I responded, “I got punched in the face.” She looked shocked, and asked, “Would you like me to call the police?” I was still a little stunned from the excitement of my night, so my friend responded for me, “No, she was in an MMA fight.” This answer only confused her more.

The reaction of the receptionist was priceless. I usually get the same look when people find out I willingly fight in a cage. Every person has the same question for me:

“Why would you want to fight?”

It’s not for money, fame, or the chance of going pro. There are four reasons I fight, and four reasons why I believe everyone should try competitive fighting.

4 Reasons Why Everyone Should Try Fighting

1. Confidence

Fighting develops confidence

Fighting develops confidence that lasts long after the fight is over (Image: Flickr / Chris & Karen Highland)

When I’m training for a fight, I have swag.

A friend pointed it out to me a few months after I started sparring in my boxing classes.

Learning how to fight, and the intense training that goes with it, gives you a confidence. It’s not an arrogance, or a sense that you can knock out anyone who passes you.

It’s just knowing that you can go face-to-face with someone and control your emotions. You can push fear aside, and do what needs to be done.

This knowledge about yourself gives you a confidence that doesn’t only stay in the gym. It translates to being confident when you take on that big project at work, or when you want to ask that out-of-your-league co-worker out to dinner.

Win or lose in the ring, you can feel good about yourself for having the guts to fight.

2. The Ultimate Competition

Most sports involve teammates, equipment and scorecards. Winning feels great and losing feels terrible, but there are always other people or other factors that can share the fame or blame. When you step into a ring, it’s all about you.

Fighting is the ultimate form of competition

It's just you against the other guy. There's no one else to blame.

Whether you win or lose, it’s all riding on your shoulders.

Sure, your corner is there to coach you. But every event that happens in the ring is your doing. Every punch you land is because of those hours you put in at the gym. Every hit you take is because you’re not doing what you trained to do.

Fighting is the ultimate form of competition.

It’s a way to test yourself, to see what you’re made of.

Some argue that fighting takes more mental focus than other sports, and I agree with that.

You haven’t really tested yourself until you have had to stare into the eyes of your opponent at the weigh-in, or entered a ring knowing there’s a very good chance you’ll end up getting hit hard.

It tests your mind and your physical ability, making it the ultimate competition.

3. Fitness

You want to be in the best shape of your life?

Train for a fight.

Competitive fighting requires an insane level of fitness

I remember watching boxers go at it, and getting frustrated when they got tired. It looked so easy. Once I started training, I realized how wrong I was.

Try hitting a heavy bag for three minutes straight with full power. Then, imagine doing that while you move around a ring. Take it one step further, and imagine trying to defend against an opponent whose main goal is to knock you out.

The level of fitness required for fighting is incredible.

Training for any type of fight requires strength workouts, cardio, and skill training. After a few months of serious training, you will have muscles in places you didn’t know existed.

No matter how modest you are, you’ll find yourself looking into a mirror thinking - “Damn, I’m ripped.”

4. The Experience

Every time I walk out for a fight, I feel the same emotions.

First, I feel a sense of focus that I have never felt in any other experience. The bright lights, the cheering fans, they all mean nothing. I’m focused on my game plan and getting my hand raised.

As I enter the cage, I feel the excitement building. All of the work I’ve done is about to pay off.

I stare at my opponents eyes and feel no fear, only anticipation.

Win or lose, there's no experience like fighting

Win or lose, there's no experience like fighting

Once that bell rings, everything goes into auto-mode. I hear only my coach’s voice and my muscles respond to the training we’ve been doing for months.

If I bleed, I don’t feel it.

When the fight is over and my hand is raised, I feel a high that no drug would ever be able to provide.

The experience of competitive fighting is like no other. Even street fights don’t compare. It’s such a rush of emotions that no one could fully explain. Through victories and losses, the experience proves that you can do anything.

Fighting will change your life forever.

Once you have your first fight, you will never look at yourself the same way. And although that may partially be because you’ll have an awesome scar over your eye, it will mostly be because it changes you in an amazing way.

Next articleHow to Punch Properly
Danielle Gallagher is an amateur MMA fighter and lives to train. She has several years of experience in Muay Thai and grappling, but has always been a fan of combat sports. With experience as a personal trainer and kids MMA instructor, she enjoys sharing her knowledge about the sport through her writing.